LOW END THEORY FEST 2016 @ THE SHRINE + PHOTO ESSAY
Ras G’s interstellar sound took on decidedly nebular qualities last night: A fat, viscous grumble, somewhere between boiling dark matter and reverberating starship engine. Rappers Kahlil Sadiq and Eagle Nebula—members of his Afrikan Space Program—were twin balls of energy, giving Ras’ set its forward thrust. Near the end, Gaslamp Killer accompanied, giving Ras’ amorphous clouds hallucinatory shape.
If only we could all attack life with the same energy Gaslamp Killer uses to attack a DJ set. GLK spent both his late-nite DJ set and the transitions between main stage acts splicing 8-bit video game sounds, Black Sabbath classics, and sitar samples with stupidly loud bass, all while flipping his fro and randomly screaming things like “Yes, I have weed on my person!” For sheer entertainment value, there was no one better than GLK.
While Daedelus was shooting beams of life energy down the hall on the main stage, Gonjasufi—the former Gaslamp Killer collaborator and crafter of gritty, subterranean hip-hop—was wandering somewhere a little more dire. And while his words were largely inscrutable, his mix of groaning delivery and droning guitar made for an eerie, off-kilter performance.
Shiva had the aesthetic down: From the shawl that veiled most of her face to the elements of dub and New Age she expertly stirred into her mix, everything was calibrated for maximum aura. But her set wasn’t without little surprises, either — particularly the viscous Arca-inspired drops and shattered footwork beats that occasionally destabilized her otherwise steady-going dark-club vibe.
Linafornia pairs her elastic, riff-based beat style with a radiant stage show, whipping her braids back and forth and grabbing the mic to rap along with the occasional accompanist, like the ferocious DeviWonder: “I got 20s, I got 50s, I got 100s now!” It was a bit of a shame to see her play so early, as festivalgoers were just starting to trickle in. But if things keep up, she’ll have a slot on the main stage soon enough.
While others were bopping, Samiyam was brooding. The producer, known for shadowy pieces inspired by snappy ‘90s beats and 8-bit video game sounds, turned in a surprisingly tense, stormy set, marked by trudging rhythms and eerie atmospheres.
Sonnymoon, the band featuring Kendrick Lamar collaborator Anna Wise, rolled back the frenzied beat madness that dominated much of the day in favor of cool, soulful art pop. They awed over and over: From Wise’s grand, beautiful vocal breaks to Dane Orr’s delicate guitar lines to one heartstopping note held out in glorious three-part harmony.